Allison Hoffman combines a love of pageant competition with a passion for wildlife rehabilitation.
Hoffman, who received the 2021 Love Kindness award from the School of Education, serves her community through the Miss America program and is also a certified wildlife rehabilitator.
Mike Robertson, an ordained minister and community supporter of UWM, established the Love Kindness scholarship in 2017 as a way to support those who were making a difference in the community.
Hoffman, an elementary education major, was chosen as Miss Beloit Outstanding Teen before coming to UWM, and competed in the Miss Wisconsin Outstanding Teen. She is now active in the Miss America program, a sister program to the Outstanding Teen competitions.
“Miss America is a scholarship pageant, but it’s frequently confused with a beauty pageant, like Miss USA,” she says. “With Miss America there are five points to the crown and one of them is service, so it’s all about representing your community. Every candidate has to choose a platform or initiative. We spend time promoting that and raising money. Mine is all about wildlife rehabilitation.”
“When I tell people I rehab raccoons, they think I’m a little crazy,” Hoffman adds with a laugh.
She became involved in working with wild animals when she and her mother moved to a small farm near Beloit. Her mother came up with the idea of volunteering with Wisconsin WildCare, a network of wildlife rehabilitators based in Madison. She and her mother work with raccoons, squirrels, opossums and rabbits – any animals that they are licensed for. Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed, trained and equipped to provide temporary care and treatment to injured, sick and orphaned wild animals. The goal is to release them back into the wild.
“It’s a lot of fun and it’s so interesting to watch these animals grow and develop. Most of the time when we get them, they still have their eyes closed, and we keep them until we release them in September.”
During her time as Miss Beloit Outstanding Teen, she did more than 100 presentations on the work, both in person and virtually.
She became interested in pageant competitions during her sophomore year in high school. She enjoys the competitions themselves and the friends she’s made through the program. “I’m in love with the whole pageant lifestyle. It’s such a sisterhood. It has that scholarship aspect so that even if I didn’t walk away with a crown, I would still end up with some money for college.”
She was proud to represent her hometown of Beloit in competitions. “I love the community, and sometimes it gets a bad rap from the media. We wanted to work to make the community better.”
Hoffman chose UWM and education after looking at one other university. “The minute I toured UWM, I decided this was it. I loved the community and I loved the program.”
Teaching has been a long-time goal.
She plans to compete for Miss Milwaukee area, and is already looking at a list of projects and a wildlife rehabilitation facility she can become involved in now that she’s living here.
The Love Kindness scholarship will help her continue to reach for those goals. She cried when she told her mom, she says.
“I was super excited when I got the scholarship. It was not only being recognized for community service, but it’s really motivational after a tough year. It really re-ignited the fire.”
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